Authentic Seafood Paella at Beechwood Inn: Nourishing, vibrant, and served without pretension, paella has held a place of honor and practicality in Spanish homes for centuries.
Authentic Seafood Paella
3 cups bomba or calasparra rice (arborio risotto works as a substitute)
8 cups chicken stock
1 large red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
large red and yellow bell pepper, diced
4 plum tomatoes, diced
4 ounce can tomato paste
15 large peeled shrimp (feel free to add clams, calamari or mussels)
2 -3 lbs rabbit or chicken thighs
4 links chorizo or smoked sausage, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1⁄2 cup fresh parsley
2 -3 tablespoons fresh thyme
1⁄2 tablespoon paprika
1 large pinch saffron
3 lemons, quartered
Authentic Seafood Paella
It’s best to have all your ingredients prepared before you start cooking. Prepare the rabbit by separating the legs, cutting remaining meat into small slices and lightly salting. (In our area rabbit is seasonal. During the summer and fall I substitute with chicken thighs). I peel my shrimp, leaving only the tail and then salt them. In Spain they tend to leave the shrimp un-shelled.
I always try to make my chicken stock from scratch (time permitting), adding a bit of rosemary, a tiny pinch of saffron and a bit of thyme. Keep your stock hot but not boiling as you cook.
Coat the bottom of your paella/pan with olive oil. Brown your chorizo over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not fully cook, just get the outside well browned. Set aside. This should add a nice red color and flavor to your oil.
Brown the Rabbit/chicken for 2-3 minutes. It should not be fully cooked either. Set aside.
Brown garlic, onion and bell peppers until they’re softened. Then ass plum tomatoes shortly before the mixture is finished. Push the vegetables to one side of the pan and on the other add the half can of tomato paste. Caramelize it, flipping it and spreading it until it begins to loosen (1-2 min over high heat).
Mix all of the vegetables and meats together with the caramelized tomato paste also adding the paprika, parsley and thyme.
Add rice, mixing together and stirring as the rice browns (1-1 1/2) minutes. As the rice browns mix in the saffron. Make sure to crush the threads between your fingers and stir it in to release the oils.
When the rice is slightly translucent add enough chicken stock to cover the whole mixture. If it’s been kept warm, it will begin to boil almost immediately. Lower to a medium heat but keep it at a steady boil.
This is where paella is made or broken. I stir a few times in the first 5-10 minutes, adding broth as necessary to keep the rice fully covered. After this you must let the paella sit. Let it cook another 10-20 minutes, even a little longer if done on stove top, adding broth bit by bit to keep the rice submerged until the rice on the top is al dente. Don’t worry about rice burning to the bottom, this part is a tasty delicacy.
Near the End
Once you’ve stirred the paella for the last time and are letting it cook, add the shrimp to the top (you should have about 8 minutes left). Turn shrimp over after 2-4 minutes to cook other side.
When the rice on top is still quite al dente, take paella off of heat and cover. Place the Paella in a warm oven and you must let it sit for 15-20 minutes. I’ve taken the lid off prematurely and ended up with a crunchy mess. Patience is the key. Once you’re sure it’s ready uncover, garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy! Makes 6-8 servings.
To round out the meal, choose a good Spanish red wine from the Rioja region, grab a crusty baguette, and serve with a light salad. Check out Beechwood Inn’s Wine Cellar https://beechwoodinn.ws/beechwood-inn-wine-cellar/
Featuring recipes by David and Gayle Darugh